SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Mother Nature is throwing spring sports teams a curveball this March as high school athletes prepare for the upcoming spring season. The Spotswood High School varsity baseball team has been making use of the parking lot and the gym as a soggy, snow-covered field and cold temperatures continue to wreak havoc with practices and scrimmages.
“The extremely poor weather may be a hindrance as we have not had the field time we are accustomed to in installing our game plan,” Head Coach Glenn Fredricks said.
However, despite the lack of field time, the Chargers are focused on one goal.
“The 2017 edition will deploy a strong offense and a relentless run game to complement a veteran pitching rotation in hopes of capturing its first division title in nine seasons,” Fredricks continued.
2007 was a banner year for baseball at Spotswood High School. The Chargers captured the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, the Central Jersey Group Two Sectional championship in addition to winning the Central Jersey Group Two NJSIAA title.
Fredricks was on the bench for the award-winning campaign, having coached the Chargers for the past 13 seasons. The popular physical education teacher also served as an assistant coach for two years prior to taking over the head coaching duties in 2004. Fredricks has an overall record of 183-129 during his tenure as head coach.
The Chargers finished the 2016 season with a 12-13 record and said goodbye to five key members. Matt Krause, Jake Ryan, Dan Newton, Shawn O’Connor and Greg Welsh all graduated in June. Krause headed to American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts on a baseball scholarship.
Yet, despite the departures, the Chargers remain strong with a noteworthy group of players making up the majority of the roster. Seniors JT Vento, Nick Mohr, Ryan Szatkowski, Chris Auciello, Matt Ciaccio, Andrew Fuzesi, Sal Mistretta and Tom Walker will all be returning as are juniors Nick Vincelli, Mike Izzo, Nate Carone and Freddy Rago.
Vento has committed to bring his pitching and outfielding skills to Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. Coastal Caroline claimed the Division One National Championship last season and finished the 2016 collegiate baseball season number one in the country.
Szatkowski will be taking his football and baseball prowess to Castleton State University in Castleton, Vermont in the fall to play division three athletics.
In addition to a seasoned bench filled with upper classmen, the Chargers 2017 roster will also see the return of sophomore standout Matt Vento. The younger Vento made his mark early in the Spotswood High School record books by recording four wins in his rookie season. The sophomore will be looking to build on last year’s success on the mound and in the infield.
The Chargers’ varsity roster will be rounded out by a pivotal group of newcomers that includes juniors DJ Shaffer, Derek Buhl, Vinnie Guardiola, Chance Fee, Dylan Seel, Matthew Amador and Justin Fiorello as well as sophomore Evan Scarduffa.
This season will see the addition of new opponents for the Chargers on the field with the inclusion of Governor Livingston High School and South Plainfield High School into the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group Two Division.
“The Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division looks formidable once again as each team has a legitimate shot at the title,” Fredricks said. “This team will hit for power and average. It is an extremely tight-knit group who pull for and play for one another. So chemistry will be a key to this club's success.”
The Chargers will also take part in their eighth straight Autism Awareness Invitational on April 23 at North Brunswick Community Park where the team will take on Robbinsville High School.
“Our team and fans are very proud to be part of such a great event,” Fredricks noted about the upcoming Autism Awareness Invitational.
While a water-logged field continues to limit field time, the Chargers have five scrimmages on the schedule before the team opens the 2017 season with an away game against East Brunswick Tech High School on April Fool’s Day at 10:30 a.m. Their first home game will be Tuesday, April 4 at 4 p.m. at the Spotswood High School varsity baseball field.